When it was confirmed earlier this year that Live Free or Die Hard, the terribly-titled fourth installment of John McClane's series of unfortunate events - was to be PG-13, film geeks everywhere groaned in unison. Sometimes we get ourselves up in a tizzy over nonsense (the much ado over Tom Hanks' Da Vinci Code hair was embarrassing). But I'm going to defend the critics this time and include my own peccadillo regarding hair length.
I can accept a Die Hard movie that doesn't take place on Christmas. I can barely accept a Die Hard movie without Sgt. Al Powell or Richard Thornburg. But a PG-13 Die Hard? 20th Century Fox should be fined for conspiring to start a riot.
At least I now understand why they didn't cast Samuel L. Jackson in this one again (Samuel L. has a clause in his contract stating he must be able to say "motherf**cker" a minimum of 48 times in every movie, 49 on leap year). I realize there is such a thing as a "hard PG-13" but the earlier entries weren't borderline R-rated features. They were "hard R's". Let me give you a few examples of things I won't be expecting in this week's release:
1. Brain splatter on a windowed wall a la Mr. Takagi in Die Hard
2. A man's leg, knees and thighs getting shot to hell from under a table (again, Die Hard)
3. Ellis snorting coke leading to lines such as, "Hans, babe, put down the gun. This is radio, not television.". Ellis, come back. We miss you.
And of course ...
4. Yippee-ki-yay, motherf***er
That's just the first movie and that ain't the half of it. See, there is a cocky vulgar edge to McClane that audiences connected with. Now we're going to get McClane-lite. I know McClane says Yipee-ki-yay in this one. They've made damn sure I did with every commercial on TV. But he doesn't finish it, McClane-style. Not really. Instead, we're going to get Yipee-ki-yay, GUNFIRE.
L to the A-M-E. What is that garbage? Talk about wussifying one of the greatest action franchises ever. I guess the only way we're able to hear it said correctly this year is by attending an NBA game (WARNING ... foul language).
Yet this isn't the only problem I have with Bruce's latest. I have a serious problem with the shaved head. Maybe I'm taking this too far, but John McClane should always have serious hairline issues. It humanizes him and that was the great thing about his character in the first movie. He was just a regular guy in a crazy situation. The thinning hair is as much apart of his character as his smirk. I know Bruce likes to go Kojak in a lot of his films, but come on ... give us the hair plugs. It just doesn't feel right without them.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dre writes three times a week for Film.com, covering Movies and DVD with his Floridian flare. E-mail him!